Brandreth: Origin and meaning of surname

This is a rather unusual English surname and four possible explanations of its origin and meaning have been found. Take your pick!

A) Brandreth is a locational name derived from Brancepeth in Northumberland, England.1,2 The well-known Brancepeth Castle is situated at Brancepeth and dates from the 11th century when it was originally built by descendants of Norse Vikings.3 Brancepeth, the village’s name, is said to derive from “Brawn’s Path”. There is a legend that Brancepeth was once terrorised by an enormous brawn (wild boar), which was eventually killed by a knight named Sir Roger de Ferie in 1208. A commemorative stone marks the traditional location of the brawn’s death.2

B) Another likely explanation is that it derives from “Brandon’s Path”, after St Brandon, the patron saint of the local parish church at Brancepeth, which was established in the 12th century.2,4

C) Another thought is that residents in the area near Brandreth Mountain adopted this locational surname centuries ago. Brandreth is the name of a mountain that is located 715 m above sea-level in the English Lake District of Cumbria, the United Kingdom. In Old Viking or Celtic, it means ‘place of fire’.5 Interestingly, Northumberland and Cumbria are in close proximity of each other, with both being found in the northern part of England. One can therefore conclude that the Brandreth surname most likely originated in Northern England.

D) Also, the root of the surname Brandreth stem from the pre-10th century Scandinavian Old Norse personal name Brandr, which means ‘sword’ or ‘firebrand’ 1,2 – a person who is very passionate about a particular cause. This means that the surname could have originated with a person named or nicked-named Brandr, that was passed on to his descendants.

This surname is rare. Two spelling variations have been noted namely Brandreith and Brandreth.6


  1. Last name: Brandreth.
  2. Brancepeth.
  3. Brancepeth Castle.
  4. St Brandon’s Church, Brancepeth, in the Diocese of Durham.
  5. Brandreth.
  6. Brandreth surname, family crest & coat of arms.